YEREVAN—The Armenian capital unveiled its latest urban development project over the weekend—the city’s first dedicated bicycle path. The new lane starts at the Goghbatsi-Tumanyan intersection and runs down the length of Goghbatsi Street in the city center.
As part of the project to revitalize the previously-congested street, the Yerevan Municipality also completely rebuilt and widened the sidewalk by 1.6 meters with an intricate cobblestone pattern along the length of the curb. Parking on that side of the street has also been restricted with the curb now forming the new barrier for the dedicated bicycle lane. “Goghbatsi Street has been renovated, part of the pedestrian street widened, and a bicycle path has been set up, the only one yet,” wrote Yerevan mayor spokesman Hakob Karapetyan on Facebook. “We hope more will be created.”
According to the Yerevan Municipality, the project, realized under the scope of a public-private-partnership, is the first of its kind in Yerevan. However, it won’t be the last. The newly revitalized stretch of Goghbatsi Street will serve as a proof of concept for a projected larger network of dedicated bike lanes across the city’s major thoroughfares. “Expect surprises on other streets soon,” wrote the head of the city center’s administrative district Viktor Mnatsakyanyan. His lengthy message was supported by a video of crews painting the bike path red in the middle of the night.
The lack of planning for alternative modes of transportation, including bike lanes, was among the primary reasons that newly-elected Mayor Hayk Marutyan ordered the city’s proposed mass transit strategy back to the drawing board. The rejected proposal will delay its implementation by at least two years.
Yerevantsis, for the most part, have welcomed the new road. The bike lane has been full of cyclists since last Thursday’s opening ceremony. Last month’s introduction of the YerevanRide bike-sharing service has also made it possible for thousands of Diaspora Armenians in town for the PanArmenian Games to enjoy the new bike path as well.
Others are showing some signs of skepticism. Pessimistic online threads are waiting for a car to park in the lane or a cyclist to get hit in an accident.
All in all, the Yerevan Municipality has hailed the new path as the first of its kind in the Armenian capital, but it certainly isn’t the first attempt. Under previous mayor Daron Markaryan, City Hall twice promised to meet demands to accommodate the growing number of cyclists in the city by building “European standard” bike lanes. However, the results did little to impress. The single lane was a hand-painted line across the sidewalk on Sayat Nova and Moskovyan Avenues. The lane also went down a set of stairs and through a tree at one point.